Forum on Women and the Economy: Women’s Entrepreneurship Breakout Session

Forum on Women and the Economy: Women’s Entrepreneurship Breakout Session


Mary Miller:
Thank you so much.
I’m Mary Miller. I work at the Treasury. I’ve been at the Treasury
for about two years. Prior to that, I spent 26
years in the private sector. I started out at a very
small company in Baltimore, a private company called T. Rowe Price, and I was there
over the period of time where the company went public
and grew into, of course, today a national company. I have never taken the
kinds of risks that you have taken as entrepreneurs. I have jumped at the opportunity
to come and talk to this group, because I think what you do is
so interesting and exciting. I’d say the biggest risk I took
was when I quit my comfortable job and came to the government. But I would say it’s not
a risk, it’s a privilege. It has been an extraordinary
time to be working in this administration and
on these issues. My first assignment at the
Treasury was financial markets. And I translated that role as
being one of strong engagement with the financial markets. You can’t talk about them
unless you’re facing people in the markets every day. So my days are filled
with meetings like this, with talking to people who do
real things in the real economy, and translating that back into
the Treasury policy makers, secretaries, senior staff, and
sometimes the White House staff on what we’re seeing in the
economy and financial markets. A couple of things I might
mention that I’ve done that are of interest, I think, in
particular to this setting, we have hosted a series that the
Treasury called Women in Finance and we’ve brought in investment
managers and market participants who are women to give
us their perspective, not only on the markets, but
also on the business of being in the markets and
understanding the challenges and issues that they face. A second thing that I worked on
that I’m quite excited about was a conference we hosted a year
ago called Access to Capital for small companies. And we’ve been hearing so
much about a, you know, sort of very dry
pipeline for IPOs, for companies trying to find
capital in a very different economic and financial climate,
that we brought in a bunch of people and asked people from
all sectors of this, academics, market participants, exchanges,
small business owners, tell us what’s going
on at ground level. And the ideas from that day
translated into a private sector task force that was formed to
come back with some good ideas about how we could open
the pipeline for capital for small companies. And yesterday the President
signed the Jobs Act, which included some very
important provisions, to help companies grow into
being public companies. It also includes provisions for
crowd funding and for ways for small businesses to find
capital that I think are quite interesting and quite promising. So we know we’re
not done, you know, nothing ever is a silver
bullet to solve every problem. But I think it opened the door
to thinking about opportunities for small companies
and how we can do more. So I’m going to stop there and
introduce my very exciting and dynamic co-chair
here, Donna James, who is the chairman of the
National Women’s Business Council. And I intend to do far
less talking and a lot more listening
from this point forward. Donna James:
Hopefully this will
be a dialogue. Quick introduction. I do chair the National
Women’s Business Council. In addition to that, I have my
own small consulting practice, Lardon and Associates. But I am here on behalf of
the National Women’s Business Council. And this conversation with you
is very much aligned with the work that we do. I’m joined by Jaime Nack,
who’s also on the Council, but she’s also a businesswoman,
she’ll introduce herself. And we’ll ask you to introduce
yourselves very quickly. So I’m going to try
to lead by example. The National Women’s Business
Council is a bipartisan council of 15 women from across
the United States. Our sole purpose is to listen
and understand what you need as women business owners
in order to grow, promoting the growth of
women-owned small businesses. We are advisers to the
President, the SBA, and Congress. We also conduct research. Never enough money or time to do
all the understanding that needs to be done, so all of these
conversations are very helpful in that regard. And I will be taking
lots of mental notes, because I’m sure I
can’t write as fast. Please let’s go around very
quickly, introduce who you are, and then I want to swing it
to someone who is in this room somewhere, Ginger Lew. And so maybe Ginger
can be the last person to introduce herself. But I want to get very quickly
we do into this dialogue around promoting the growth of
women-owned small businesses. Access to capital
is always a topic, but there’s also
access to markets, there’s leadership development,
there’s the whole continuum of Main Street startup all
the way to high growth, which that continuum is
something I’m particularly interested in, not just access
to capital, but all issues. So why don’t we start
— it’s never any fun, whoever you pick on first. Judy Dlugacz:
Okay. Donna James:
And roll around the room. Judy Dlugacz:
My name is Judy Dlugacz
and I own a company called Olivia, and we are
about a $30 million company. I started the company 40 years
ago as a record company for women, to create
opportunities for women in the recording industry. And then morphed 20 years after
that into a travel company for women. We charter cruises
and resorts for women. I have this extraordinary
amount of data on a very amazing segment of the population of
women throughout the United States and other
parts of the world, but particularly in
the United States. And I’m very glad to be here. I think one of the things about
women entrepreneurs — and I’m just going to say this really
quick — is that becoming a for-public — a public company
is not necessarily a major goal for most women businesses. And I think that that’s
an important thing. It’s actually a
wonderful thing, as well. So I hope we get into that
a little bit more, as well. Natalia Oberti Naguera:
Hi, name is Natalia
Oberti Noguera. I use my mom’s and my father’s
last names, so it’s a mouthful. And I am founder and CEO
of the Pipeline Fellowship. We train women philanthropists
to become angel investors and we have two goals. The first one is to increase
the diversity of the U.S. angel investing community. Last year there were
only 12% of U.S. angel investors who were women
and only 5% who were minorities. And the other goal is obviously
to create more capital for women social entrepreneurs. And I’m delighted to be here. Teresa Nelson:
Teresa Nelson. I’m a Professor of
Entrepreneurship at Simmons College in Boston. And I’m also here second hat as
a member of the Advisory Board for Astia in New York. Astia is dedicated to
identifying and supporting and working with women
who want to develop, launch and grow their
high-growth ventures across different industry areas. And I was — I’m really glad to
hear the emerging dialogue from the SBA that’s talking
about small businesses, not only as small businesses
that will continue to be small, but also those that are
launching and hope to grow. And there’s so much more work
that can be done there at those intermediate steps in education
and support and alternate funding sources. So thank you. Nell Merlino:
Nell Merlino, I’m the founder — (inaudible) We work with women who have
microbusinesses to grow them to million dollar enterprises. We started a program called Make
Mine a Million Dollar Business with American Express Open, and
have been doing that for six years and are about to have our
first reunion of all the — 32% of the women who come through
the program earned a million dollars or beyond and have hired
hundreds and hundreds of people. And I’m interested — I am
interested in this conversation, both about access to markets
because I think access to markets is a very important
issue and it continues to be challenging for folks who maybe
start out as a small business and could be a larger business,
as they start to understand what they’re capable of. And the access to markets I
think on some levels is as important as the
access to capital. Elizabeth Vazquez:
I agree. I’m Elizabeth Vazquez, the CEO
and co-founder of WeConnect, International. And like We Bank in
the United States, we work with very large
corporations like Wal-Mart that want to buy from
women-owned businesses. But WeConnect works outside
of the United States. And I think that aspect of
access to markets that you’ve — both Donna and Nell have
mentioned — is absolutely critical. Because at the end of the day
what the women really want is to sell their stuff, their
products and their services. And I think for too long we
were just not having a serious conversation about
the access to markets. So I hope that that’s
an issue we can address. Thank you. Jaime Nack:
Hi, Jaime Nack. I am President and founder
of Three Squares, Inc. It’s an environmental
consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles, and we have
a branch in Argentina. We specialize in environmental
conferences and trade shows and also strategic initiatives
like electric vehicle charging infrastructure. I’m also a proud council member
on the National Women’s Business Council, and it’s exciting to
be here with you all today. Erin Andrew:
Great. Erin Andrew, and
I’m with the U.S. Small Business Administration,
our Office of Entrepreneurial Development. So we oversee the roughly 13,000
business counselors and trainers across the country that provide
free counseling and training to anyone who walks
through their doors. Laurie Yamanaka:
My name is Laurie Yamanaka. I’m president and
co-founder of TeamCFO. We provide outsource controller
and CFO services to small and midsize businesses. So half of our clientele
are women-owned businesses. So we get to see up close
and personal what happens to women-owned businesses who
are fairly large for the classification. We specialize in people
over a million dollars, actually 3 to 5 million and up. And in my other role, I am
incoming chair for National Association of Women Business
Owners, NAWBO National. And NAWBO has been running
some pilot test programs, education for high-end women,
women over a million dollars, in conjunction with UCLA. We are very interested in
finding or identifying reasons for why women who are
fairly successful, over that million dollar mark,
quite a bit over that million dollar mark, have
issues in finance. So when they’re — when we’re
scoring them against the male counterparts, it’s not just the
women below a million dollars that have issues in the
financial acumen or their capacity or capability, it’s
women who are highly successful. And we don’t hear about the
conversation a whole lot, because I think it’s something
we probably don’t want to publicize, although now
it’s out in the open. But I really would like to —
we’re not going to make the differences that we can
and those, you know, $10 million businesses could be
$100 million businesses if we had our finance house in order. Donna James:
You’re right. Laurie Yamanaka:
So that’s what I’m
interested in. Donna James:
I call it the donut hole,
you know, you get the bite and you think
you’re there and it’s all sweet and then there’s this
other hole you fall into, you’ve got to figure
out how to get out to get to the other side. Laurie Yamanaka:
Right, and that hole is big. Speaker:
Yeah. Gina Harman:
I’m Gina Harman,
and I’m the CEO of Accion, the U.S. network, which is a network of
organizations across the country that lend to small
businesses here in the U.S. And I’m excited to be here
because there’s — it’s wonderful to be at the table
where small business and particularly women-owned
small businesses is the topic of discussion. And with so many talented
women in the room, I’m sure that we’re going
to make some real progress. Speaker:
Absolutely. Cali Williams Yost:
I’m Cali Williams Yost. I am the CEO and founder of
the Flex+Strategy Group and Work+Life Fit, Inc. Our primary business is
with large companies, creating flexibility strategies
to make the workplace more flexible. We also give tools and
strategies to individuals to help them use that flexibility
to manage their work-life fit. We do not believe
there is a balance, only that work-life fit. I’m interested in this topic of
women entrepreneurs — I’m one — but also for a couple reasons
I find women tend to go into entrepreneurship for the
flexibility to manage their work-life fit. And they also limit themselves
in terms of growth because of the fears around the impact
on their work-life fit. So if we could start
talking about, again, there is no balance when
you’re a women entrepreneur, but how can we manage our
work-life fit as entrepreneurs to really go for that growth. Donna James:
Let’s keep going. You’re last, Ginger Lew,
okay, don’t forget that. Go ahead. Speaker:
Hi, I’m (inaudible) with the Department
of the Treasury. I’m here on behalf of (inaudible) It’s so good to be here today. And one of our primary functions
at the department is public engagement. So I think we’ve seen a couple
of people here at the table at the White House (inaudible) White House Business Council. So a lot of it is this access to
capital issue entrepreneurship. So I’m just (inaudible) Dee Poku:
Hi, my name is Dee Poku. I run an organization
called the WIE Network. WIE stands for Women
Inspiration and Enterprise. And we’re designed for this
generation’s women leaders to inspire the next generation. So we’re very, very focused
on mentorship and creating a support network for women. Donna James:
Did we get to you? Sarah Beatty:
No. Donna James:
Nope, don’t — please. Sarah Beatty:
Good morning. I’m Sarah
Beatty with Wal-Mart. And like Elizabeth said, we
launched a women’s empowerment initiative at the end of last
year to devote a significant amount of resources to
partnering with women-owned businesses to buy their products
and put them on our shelves. We’re also doing work with
women in farms and factories, grants to foundations
to help women. So it’s a huge initiative for
the company and something we’re very proud of. So I’m happy to be here today. Ann Tinello Pinalto:
And I’m Ann Tinello Pinalto with American Express. We’re one of the largest
providers of credit to small businesses. We have a particular focus
on women business owners. Nell mentioned our partnership
on the Make Mine a Million. Another program that we’ve been
spending a lot of time on in the last couple of years
is called Give Me Five, with another women’s
organization, Women Impacting Public Policy,
to help women entrepreneurs do more with government contracting
and reach that 5% goal that the women — that the government
is supposed to do business with women entrepreneurs. Rachel Sklar:
Hi, my name is Rachel Sklar. I’m the founder of an
organization called Change the Ratio, which is geared
towards increasing visibility, opportunity and
access for women. The core is tech and new
media and entrepreneurship. But we called it Change the
Ratio specifically so it could address all of the
inequities that we seem to see across every vertical. It’s staggering how
similar the stories are. I began as a lawyer. I briefly dabbled in comedy. Then I covered media,
which meant I was covering (inaudible) in 2008. And when I got (inaudible) I discovered all of the issues
were remarkably similar to others that I had
covered and experienced. And I’m an impatient
sort of person, so I tackled visibility first,
because that’s something that I know I can deal with
and have an impact on, both through my own network and
through haranguing people on Twitter who don’t have enough
women at their conferences. (laughter) Speaker:
Hear, hear. LaShawn Martin:
Hi, my name is LaShawn Martin. I’m CEO and founder
of Shootie Girl, which is a rhinestone
t-shirt company. And we are doing our best to
expand to get in places like Target and Wal-Mart and Macy’s
and different things like that. The company actually started
with my two young daughters, who I am empowering
to be their own CEOs and their own business owners. They’re eight and nine now, and
actually design for our company. I also represent Mocha Moms,
which is a national organization of stay-at-home women of color. We have 3,000 moms across
the country in 29 states. And a lot of them are new
business owners trying to bring wealth and
income into their households because of the economy. So I’m here for two
different reasons. Donna James:
Let’s go — Lorraine Cole:
I’m Lorraine Cole, and
I’m Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the
Department of the Treasury. And our role is not only
work force diversity, but to ensure fair inclusion
of minority and women-owned businesses in all of the
business activities at Treasury. And Treasury
exceeded the 5% goal. (applause) Speaker:
One of the few. Christine Alazaro:
My name is Christine Alazaro and I’m with McDonald’s Corporation. I work in communications
and I also work closely with diversity groups. I recently became more involved
with the women’s networks, and we have a strong network
of women franchisees, suppliers and employees. So I’m here to learn about the
opportunities and challenges that women in business face and
make sure that I am the perfect liaison for our women. Eun Kim:
Hi, my name is Eun Kim. I’m the communications director
for the National Women’s Business Council. As Donna had mentioned, we
are advisors to the SBA, the White House and Congress. So a lot of my job involves
outreach efforts to learn about the policies and programs,
both in the public and private sector, that have an impact
on women business owners. Rosina Rubin:
Hi, my name is Rosina Rubin. My company is Attitude New York. We’ve been around for 26 years. We provide chauffeur
transportation, which is something that usually
conjures up images of people that sit in the back seat. But the business is very much
about people who sit in the front seat, people who
work in the office, people who work in the garage. We’ve got 62 employees. We’ve never laid anybody off
and we’ve had health insurance since the day we hired
our first employee. Speaker:
Bravo. (applause) Rosina Rubin:
I also chair a group of
small business people who work on issues to educate
Senator Joe Lebrand and it is very interesting how
across industries the issues are very much the same. And I’m very much interested
in mid-range businesses, because I see a lot of things
being done for startups and I see talk about
corporate tax rates, but in the middle is where
there’s a lot of growth potential. Speaker:
Thank you. Victoria Elenowitz:
I’m Victoria Elenowitz. I’m managing director — or
a managing director of Golden Seeds, which is the third
largest early stage investor group in the U.S.,
including men, as well. We have about 240
individual investors, about 8% of them are female. And so we’re investing primarily
in businesses that are scalable, so they would be growing fast
in over a five-year period from Series A to about 30 to $100
million and that’s sort of our sweet spot. And we’ve invested in about,
the last couple of years, about ten businesses a year (inaudible) We have about 50 businesses
in portfolio now. And the main thing about the
portfolio is that it must — each — the business must have
one female in the c suite, (inaudible) management responsibility. Donna James:
Thank you. Toya Powell:
Good morning, everyone. My name is Toya Powell. I’m the Director of Government
Engagement with the U.S. Black Chamber. We support 105 African-American
chambers in 17 states and 240,000 minority-owned
businesses through our five pillars of service, which are
advocacy, access to capital, contracting,
entrepreneur training and (inaudible) development. So we’re very excited to work
hopefully with many of you in several of those areas to help
grow women and minority-owned businesses, and really all
businesses across the U.S. Sherry Saunders:
Hi, I’m Sherry Saunders. And I’m the Director of
Communications and Policy for the Business and Professional
Women’s Foundation. And we are made up of members,
many of whom are small business owners, women business owners,
as well as non-business owners, both. Our current project that we’re
working on is launching — we just launched a mentoring
program for women veterans and military spouses to help them
achieve successful careers. And many of those careers
will be in small business. Many of them want to start
their own businesses. And so we’re looking for
information to help them with that. I’m also putting out the call
that all of you have access to networks and we would love to
have you sign up to be mentors. It’s not something
you do face to face. Most of these — today,
they have the Internet, most of our mentorship
relationships are done via texting and Skype and phone
calls and things like that. But we’re very anxious to get
woman who have wide ranges of experiences in business and
professions to help give back to those who have given
so much to us already. So if anyone is interested,
just let me know, I’ll give you our website and
we will be sure that we get information. Because it’s a great platform,
it’s very rewarding to do. And so I’m hopeful to
welcome you all aboard. Donna James:
Good concept. Ginger. Thank you for being — Ginger Lew:
Hi, my name is Ginger Lew. I recently left the White House. I was with the National
Economic Council. And I’ve actually spent the
last few months driving around the United States. I put on 11,000 miles and
talked to a lot of people, a lot of entrepreneurs, a
lot of small business owners, to just sort of, you know, get
a pulse on what’s going on. Because what’s happening on the
East Coast is really different than what’s happening
on the West Coast, and what’s happening in Indiana
is really different from what’s happening in Oklahoma. And I talked to a lot of women
entrepreneurs in particular. And what’s both encouraging
and a little bit discouraging, but encouraging is that
there’s tremendous energy. A lot of women are getting
involved in all aspects of the different types of businesses. And the discouraging thing is
that some of the same issues that keep recurring. It’s whether it’s
access to capital, whether it’s how do I find
information about markets and growth, the work
balance issue with family, taking care of elderly parents,
sometimes getting out of difficult or abusive
relationships. And — but, you know, a woman
really deals with so many of these issues on multiple
levels, emotional, professional, intellectual, et cetera. And what I’m hearing from
this group is we have a great cross-section. We’ve heard mention
about the missing middle. So I refer to it as
the missing middle, Donna called it the donut hole. But, you know, it’s true. Studies have shown, women
businesses tend to grow to about four or five million
dollars and then they cap off, they drop off. And we don’t really know why. Is it because of lack
of mentors, you know, lack of an older network to help
move you up the value chain. I’m involved with an
entrepreneurship group here in Northern Virginia
called Founders Corps, and it’s all CEOs, some of
them successful serial CEOs. It’s all guys. And I said, where are
the women, you know? A, why aren’t women
part of this group? And B, if they don’t want
to be part of this group, why don’t they form
their own group? But, again, studies have
shown that besides capital, the number one request of
entrepreneurs is mentorship. Having a peer-to-peer
relationship with somebody that you can talk to, share your
problems and get feedback. So I hope from this group we
can hear your ideas and your suggestions. This is a proactive
administration. Obviously, we can’t
do all things like, as the President said,
the dry cleaning mode. (laughter) Ginger Lew:
But, you know, if
you have ideas and suggestions about what this administration
should be thinking about, now — for another term
— but put it on the list. Because this is something that
I think this administration is really committed to, to the
issue of gender equality, gender parity, and promoting
the women’s economic security. Nell Merlino:
If I may. I haven’t driven around,
but I’ve, you know, put on about 100,000 miles every
year for the past 12 years, meeting women and working
with women business owners. And I am increasingly convinced
— and I’m reminded sitting here today — there’s
so much activity, there is so much
activity, you know. We do Make Mine a Million
with American Express. We’re doing this urban rebound
program with the Sam’s Club Giving Program, which is getting
women from 50,000 to 250,000 in revenue. Because there seem to
be some real barriers, whether they’re real, you
know, at every stage of this. And I have started
to think about this. And I think this is the
role of government somehow. Because there is so
much activity out here, either in the private
sector or in the NGO sector, in different sectors
of government. How to make women more aware of
all — there are plenty of women now at 30, 40, 50, 100 million. There are not a lot of them,
but there are enough of them. We’ve had the experience
recently of hooking up with one woman who is at $300 million,
who is a Wal-Mart supplier. She found Count Me In through
the President of Wal-Mart, and came to us and said, I
really am at a stage in my company — she has
eight children. For anybody who’s worried about
balance, she has eight children, eight children,
two sets of twins, so it’s not as gruesome as
it sounds, but eight, eight. (laughter) Nell Merlino:
Eight. Not as many pregnancies as — (inaudible) Nell Merlino:
Eight children, six pregnancies. But that relationship in
three months has done more, because there’s somebody at 300
million who is literally saying to people who are at a million
or 500,000, this is what you do. This is what you do. This is what you
do with the kids, this is what you do
with the business. This is how I did it, you know. This is — and she literally
took five of them to Bentonville this week for a fashion show
that they got to participate in and meet 50 buyers. These women, you know, who make
clothes, make different things, got to meet 50 buyers. It was — and I think there has
got to be — I have this image now of like we’re all
in this merry-go-round, it’s either a
merry-go-round or a tornado, where we’re trying to, you know,
move women along and there are these rings that they can grab. And I don’t think we have fully
defined for them where the rings are, you know, from startup to
100 million, where they are, who’s there, what’s
in the government, what’s in the private sector. Because there’s a
lot of activity now. I have watched, I mean, we
started Count Me In 12 years ago. I have seen a lot of
development of activity. There’s a lot of activity, a
lot of great commitment from big global companies. There’s a lot of, you know, the
kind of company that you have that’s helping women
with the CFO problem. Because if there’s a problem
that they all have, it’s that. And how do we start
to quantify it? Because it’s not — I used to
think it was just confidence. It is both confidence
and awareness. It is awareness of
how far you can go. I have asked this before,
I’m going to ask it again. The President needs to go to
women-owned businesses on his campaign stops. Women need to see other
women being successful and how they do it. You know, we have people that
have gone from no jobs to 300 jobs in less than five years. How do we start
to highlight them, not just because this
administration has made some of that activity possible,
for other women to see them. Because that to me, this
issue of mentorship, I think it is beyond
the mentorship. And I think the word
mentorship is tough here. Because mentorship I think is
associated with corporations and businesses. Women need to meet other women. They need to see people
who look like them, who are — who are the better
tennis player, if you will. You know, when you play tennis
with a better tennis player, you get better at the tennis. And they don’t know enough of
them because we get pigeonholed in these groups of, you know,
if you’re at 50,000, 250, a million, 5 million,
whatever it is, you’re with the other
people who are at 5 million, which is helpful. But you need to be talking
to the people who are at 100 million or meeting them somehow. And I think that’s something
that somehow around these issues with finance and around
some of the other issues, we might be able to do together. That everyone in this room could
start to put forth a way where women could see what
the opportunities are, because they still do
not know, they don’t. Laurie Yamanaka:
I agree with you. There’s a lot of segmentation
in the market naturally. Nell Merlino:
Yup. Laurie Yamanaka:
And at first when
you were talking, I was going no, no, no, there’s
a lot of people out there, there’s a lot of availability. But you’re right, they
segment according to size. The closest you get maybe
is some kind of industry. Nell Merlino:
Right. Laurie Yamanaka:
But that’s very rare. So I agree with you there. The — I see it as two problems. One is the soft side, which is
the relationships — Nell Merlino:
The eight children. Laurie Yamanaka:
So — yes, the eight children. So we’ve got that merry-go-round
that people are grabbing, you know, but they haven’t
worked out, they have no arms. They go for it, they grab it and
they’re not ready to catch it and they fall off, boom. Nell Merlino:
Nice a analogy. Laurie Yamanaka:
You know, I — well,
just building on yours. Nell Merlino:
Yes. Laurie Yamanaka:
And maybe it’s because
I see it through the financial world, I mean,
that is the commonality. I don’t care if you’re $1,
$10, $100, 1,000, 10 million, 100 million. At first, when we saw the data
and how weak women business owners as compared to males are,
so this is not just whatever. It’s, you know, quantitatively,
we just are not doing as well financially, our
financial acumen. How we use finance in
business, do we use finance, account — I’m not
even talking finance. I’m talking accounting. I’m talking about basics. So at first I was horrified, but
then I’ve decided to spin it. I go, wow, these women are
really successful in spite of themselves. Nell Merlino:
Exactly. Laurie Yamanaka:
They are not maximizing
one of their tools that the men or — forget the
men — anybody who’s a very good best practice business, of
course, accounting, finances, a standard, you use it,
it’s metrics, you know, companies like GE have made
their fortunes on the best practice in that area. If we could just get women
to come up to average, what kind of growth
could we have? I think that would
wipe out the disparity. Natalia Oberti Noguera:
When you were — it
was such a visual when you were saying about
falling flat on their faces. And in some ways, I like to
challenge and be provocative about how we need to actually
get more women to fall flat on their faces and risk more. Last year in terms of women
entrepreneurs getting funded, you know, we talk
about women entrepreneurs aren’t getting funded. They’re also not pitching. Last year, only 12% of
women entrepreneurs pitched. From that 12%, 26%
secured funding. Last year of
minority-led companies, only 11% were the ones pitching. And out of the 11%, only
17% were securing funding. And a huge part — and I’m
seeing it from the other side — because we are huge
believers and learn by doing. So we have a signature
event where we invite women entrepreneurs to pitch. We realized that it’s — these
women are waiting too late in a way, you know. Like they want to
cross all the T’s, they want to dot all their I’s. Reid Hoffman from
LinkedIn, he once said, if you’re no longer embarrassed
of your product when you launch, you have waited too long. And so in terms of just
positioning it as a gender — a gendered issue of perfectionism,
really pushing and engaging all these women to
just go out there. Just, if you want
money, ask for feedback. Any sort of conversation
you can have, whether it’s with the 50 buyers,
notwithstanding whether they end up securing a contract or not,
they’re going to get a better sense of how buyers think, so
that the next time that they actually meet a buyer, hopefully
they will be at a better place. Rachel Sklar:
I think, though, it’s, you know, there’s a reason that women
tend to want to make sure it’s perfect before they go
out or want to be safe. Because women get
less opportunities. They have less room
to fail, you know. When — like a really good
example is Bridesmaids. The big deal about Bridesmaids
before it came out was that this was a women-centered,
woman-written, women-driven, no dudes in it, really, comedy. And if it flopped, then that was
going to like close the door for any other woman-authored,
woman-centered comedies, which is ridiculous. Because, like, I don’t know, I
don’t even know the numbers on Get Him To The Greek. But, like, if that flops, that
doesn’t mean that Jonah Hill’s never going to do another film. So it’s, you know, you see
that a lot in this industry. You see people saying, like,
well, you know, in like VCs, portfolios, like, well, we have
— like we have a woman-run company, or we saw — like, we
see women but they’re not there yet, right. So they think you don’t want to
be the woman that’s not there yet and you don’t want to
risk your chance at, you know, finally getting in front
of someone when, as women, it’s so much harder to get that
meeting, get that warm intro, get in front of people and
actually get to the table and pitch. Too often a boardroom of men
who, you know, often are like (inaudible) women are going to rent
dresses for formal occasions? What? My wife wouldn’t do that. By the way, that’s actual
feedback from at the runway. Natalia Oberti Noguera:
It’s a niche market. Rachel Sklar:
Right. And so, you know, it’s
sort of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Because one of the things,
like, Sheryl Sandberg has been fantastic in really drawing
attention to women and sort of their contributions. But when you talk about sort of
like the ambition gap or women leaning back or not
stepping forward, like it’s not that there
isn’t a reason for that. So I always sort of try
to highlight the context. Because, you know,
you learn behavior, and you learn behavior because
of feedback you get and cues you get. And women get different cues. Donna James:
So let me just
try to segment the conversation for a second. Because one of the things I
notice is we get into sort of diagnosing, and we’re not
all clear which patient we’re talking about, if I
can kind of paraphrase. So I’m going to throw this at
our Golden Seeds representative because of the work you do and
how you’re looking at I’m going to call high potential growth
businesses that people are willing to put their dollars in,
then I’m going to come to the middle, and then I want
to come to the startup. So I want to create
three patients, three opportunity sets, and
really start to see what’s common across them and
what’s a little different. I think I know
what the answer is, but I always love having this
conversation because there are some differences, I think. So let’s talk about the profile
of the kind of woman-owned business that your
group puts money into, if that’s a fair way
to ask the question. Victoria Elenowitz:
Well,we — the business would be somewhat developed. I mean, it’s going to have
friends and family money, maybe 100, 150,000
in it already. So — because we sort of pride
ourselves on doing a lot of due diligence and analysis. And we — I would say, 18% or so
of our members are actually out of the corporate world. So we’re very collaborative
which everybody in the industry admires and we get extremely
good reviews on our procedures for funding and on our terms. But of course in our group we
only have a small portion of entrepreneurs. And so the question, you know,
where are the examples is very right. Speaker:
Okay. Victoria Elenowitz:
So one thing that we do
is we gather together. We now have over 45 women
CEOs who are a group. Now, they’re all over the U.S. so they don’t see each
other all the time. But we bring them together. And the thing that they love
more than anything — well, the two things — one is to meet
each other and exchange views on how to continue growing
their own businesses. And the other thing is to meet
entrepreneurs who’ve done it already. And in our group, we have
not only women, but men, but there are fewer
women entrepreneurs. So it ends up being that a
larger portion of the men members are giving them advice
on — practical day-to-day advice, and that’s just —
I’m just giving you — Donna James:
No, no, that’s why — Victoria Elenowitz:
— how it looks. So really, so there
definitely is a shortage. I mean, now we’re kind of
addressing the need for those women who are growing
their businesses, you know, through the early millions, you
know, to talk to each other. But still there’s less —
there’s less opportunity for those women to see other
women at high levels. Donna James:
But they’re falling back. Victoria Elenowitz:
Well, we’re seeing that. Donna James:
Yeah, more now, but
still not enough. Victoria Elenowitz:
Well, you know, not so many at the next
level, $100 million level. So — Nell Merlino:
And not as available. Victoria Elenowitz:
so we have — we have, we do have a bunch
of people in our organization that have done that. But the larger
portion would be guys. Donna James:
And not as available, Nell
was saying, because they’re — Nell Merlino:
There are not as many, and
they have eight children. I mean, seriously. I mean, the level of
responsibilities that they have. Donna James:
The businesses, too. Nell Merlino:
Yes. And I think, you know,
this is something. I am always thinking
about what, you know, with the power that
the government has, could the government
assemble and know, and know 100 women at
100 million or more. Donna James:
Who they are, where they are? Nell Merlino:
Who they are and —
because I think seeing the reaction of
people at, you know, to meet and talk to someone
who’s done this, who they feel, I mean, don’t feel
that she’s like them, it was just like a match to
gasoline in terms of the changes people were willing to make and
the things they were willing to do, that if someone
else had said, you know, you really out to put your
picture here or do something like that, they would
have said oh, yeah, maybe. They were on it. They did it. And it helped them. And I think there’s a real —
that would be a great thing to do, to quantify how many there
are and who are they and how many of them want to step
forward in some way for some kind of exchange, even
if it’s, you know, on the Internet so
that people could see them and know their story. Donna James:
I know we’re
going to run out of time. One more comment on that
size of the market so we get to middle and smaller. Teresa Nelson: I’d love
to just throw in the idea of accelerators like Astia — not
only Astia — but organizations that really dedicate themselves
to finding the women, connecting with them, who do
want to grow aggressively, right. And so locations now
in Palo Alto, New York, London and Bangalore, right,
building a coalition and bring to everyone’s attention. I think the other segmentation
is across our roles. So the nonprofit, the
government, the entrepreneurs, the investors, the
corporate interests. So there’s a 10-year commitment
now to an event called the We Own It summit. WeOwnItSummit.org. And that’s to bring all
the parties together, across all those
different sort of roots, to have the conversation
about growth. Because we also need to be
coordinated so that we’re having these sorts of conversations. And I really appreciate
the two summits that have been held for that very reason. Because I’m not sure I’d come
into contact with all of you otherwise. Donna James:
And that’s a summit for
high-growth coordination. You’re focusing on high-growth,
high-potential business. Teresa Nelson:
Correct, correct. Donna James:
Yeah. Teresa Nelson:
June 28 and 29 in New York City. Donna James:
So let’s move real quick —
go ahead. Elizabeth Vazquez:
Just a quick caveat, because I totally
agree with that. We don’t — we’re not as well
coordinated as we need to be and there’s too much to be
done and too few resources. But on the other hand, too
often we talk to each other, and we have to stop doing that. The Clinton Global Initiative is
doing a great job of trying to embed the gender lens across all
of the work of the members of the Clinton Global Initiative. And I know there are other
organizations that aren’t the traditional gender women
focused organizations. We have to, have to start
having those conversations beyond our network. Speaker:
Hear, hear. Donna James:
It’s a good call out. Speaker:
We do only have
like five minutes, so — Donna James:
I knew that was going to happen. Speaker:
Like there’s so much going on. Donna James:
Let’s talk about the middle, because I think we danced
a little bit on the small, but — not hard enough —
but the middle, that group, I call it the donut hole, I call
it — some people call it the missing middle, some say it’s
before you get to a million. Rosina Rubin:
Even beyond a million, I’m a $6 million company, I
was an $8 million company, I’d be very happy to be
a $10 million company, I never want to be 100 million. But companies that have say (inaudible) are too large to benefit from (inaudible) because I have chauffeurs who
never went to college that make more than $50,000 a year, (inaudible) of less than $50,000. Stuck in a really bad
place with health care, because insurance companies
no longer want to write small business health care
policies that don’t have huge deductibles. You know, things that would have
— that were in the jobs bill that would have
been really great for mature or medium size or (inaudible) employers, you know, tied
to increases in payroll. I have a $3 million payroll. If we had gotten
a 3% tax cut, $90,000 is the exact kind of
infusion of cash that a company like mine could use to
operate on when my bank, that used to give
me a credit of $650,000 and doesn’t want to do
anything for me anymore, doesn’t want to
give me the money, that’s generating
my own capital. So those are the kind of
things — Donna James:
No, that’s music. Natalia Oberti Noguera:
And Rosina said something that, you know, you clarified that
you want to be a $10 million, however you don’t want to
be $100 million company. And that reminds me of a book
called The Big Enough Company by Adelaide Lancaster
and Amy Abrams, and they interviewed a
lot of women entrepreneurs particularly, and really having
us accept and acknowledge that some women entrepreneurs are
not interested in being that 100 million company
and others are. Donna James:
And respect that. Natalia Oberti Noguera:
And respect it. Donna James:
And support that. Natalia Oberti Noguera:
And at the same time, I’m very comfortable being the
devil’s advocate and saying how we had three patients here,
and if this had been about male entrepreneurs, we would just
be talking about one patient, and that one patient would
be like the high-growth one. Donna James:
Yeah. Last word for the smaller
sector of our smaller patient. Gina Harman:
Our version of small is
smaller than this. But I think it was an
interesting experience two years ago when Goldman Sachs announced
a $200 million fund and defined the companies they were looking
to support as three — three years of revenue — sorry —
yes, three years of experience, 3 to $5 million of revenue, and
a cash infusion of somewhere between 150,000 and $350,000. And they went across the country
looking for organizations that were capable of making
those loans and found three. And that gives — because
the businesses in that space, everyone assumes can be
collateralized in kind of traditional ways,
and they cannot be. But you take an organization
that focuses on micro, right, and has, you know, a kind
of lumpy liquidity plan, and you start making loans of
that size and you’re extending terms to four or five years,
the business model gets to be really hard to manage. Donna James:
It is a different
business model. Gina Harman:
It’s a different model, yeah. I think we can be smart enough
to know how to underwrite them, but the instability in our
sources of DAT, you know, makes it really hard to
tie up that kind of money over a long period of time. Laurie Yamanaka:
Well, there’s no return on it. Speaker:
I just want to say — Gina Harman:
But we’re used to no return. (laughter) Judy Dlugacz:
— gone through every
level of up to the level that we’re at, and try — and
went into possibly going public and going, whoa, and bringing in
a CEO to bring us there and no. There were a lot of
pitfalls to that. But the thing is, a lot of
women’s businesses have to develop. I don’t think we want to see
businesses go from here to here. There’s a lot of steps in
between that women haven’t done yet. And, you know, starting a
business when you couldn’t even get a credit card without
a man signing for it, which was the ’70s, and not
being able to get any credit, to today the banks falling
all over us because we grew 40% last year. What? How could that possibly
happen in this economy, much less a women’s
business that, you know, has been there for a very
long time and has, you know, keeps going against
all of the hurdles. But it’s so many
women need to, look, let’s get past the one million
to the five million and let’s really concentrate on that. And then those of you who
really have the expertise to concentrate on growing those
other businesses do that. But let the government help in
that area because that’s where most of the women
are going to be. That’s just the reality. And it’s a great reality. It’s a great opportunity for
women and we haven’t seen that before and we’re seeing it. So let’s help that. Laurie Yamanaka:
Well, you’re right. The number is what, 6% of all
small businesses are over a million dollars? And of that, only women
are, I’m rounding up, 2%. Donna James:
Yes. Laurie Yamanaka:
I mean, so I do think we
need to focus on the high growth, you’ve
got to water that. That’s going to take probably
less water, to be honest, because I think those women are
going to make it no matter what. The startup and
small businesses, I think there are so
many resources out there, that it — to your point,
all over the place, community colleges,
nonprofits, colleges, whatever. I — the middle
is missing, to me. And then when you
really look at it, that’s where we have our
huge growth opportunity, because we aren’t going to get
to that high-growth area if we don’t go through this part here. And we — I don’t — it’s
like you’re the ugly teenager, you know, it’s the
teenager years, because they’re twixt and tween. They’re too big for
this, too small for this. Too knowledgeable for this, you
know, not knowledgeable enough, obviously. And it’s hard. I’ve got to say this. If there were an easy answer,
then people would put it forward. It’s a low return,
they’re hard to find, people don’t want to admit it
because in my field, you know, I would go up to potential
clients and would think they’re this size because
we’ve seen them. We found out they’re not,
because they’re embarrassed because they’re in the
middle and they’re more close to this side. So people don’t want to —
they’re willing to identify when they’re small or really large. In the middle, you don’t know. Teresa Nelson:
I think there’s one
other segment really critical just to mention,
putting on my professor hat. So I’m at Simmons College, a
historic women’s liberal arts school. 80% of our undergraduates
identify that they want to start a business someday. These millennial men and women
are different than most of the people in this room. Let’s not forget them. Because if we can invest a
little bit in them right now, maybe not — it’s not their
first job out of college, but for some it is. But somewhere in
their career track, they’re going to do things
that are extraordinary. Cali Williams Yost:
Can I just — can I just have one last thing? Whatever we do to share stories,
I think women entrepreneurs, though, we have to share the
life part of the equation. Have the women entrepreneurs
honestly support each other and mentor how they
manage their lives. Because I do believe the women
entrepreneurs that I talk to, they’re holding themselves back
from growth out of fear of the impact on their families. And the only stories
they have is Steve Jobs, who had to write a book before
he died so his kids understood why he was never — I mean,
women listen — women listen to that and they think, okay, well,
that’s what you’ve got to do, and I’m not going to do that. And it was interesting
because at the Barnard event, Arianna Huffington
tried to get her panel to talk about their balance. It was like crickets went off. They couldn’t even
— it was so awkward. They started talking about
a million other things. Gina Harman:
I was on that panel. Cali Williams Yost:
Yeah, but it was hard
for you to answer the question about balance,
because there is no balance. So how do we get to be
honest to say, you know what, owning your own business,
it could be really stressful sometimes, but here’s
how we do it, go for it, your kids are going
to be fine, you know. Talk about that honestly. Nell Merlino:
I think we have to talk
about the fact that it’s great to be the boss. Cali Williams Yost:
Yeah! Nell Merlino:
It’s great to be the boss. Mary Miller:
It is a great shame to
try to bring this to a close. I will say — I’ll
say one thing. One of my colleagues — one of
my colleagues at the Treasury had a great line the other day. She said, I don’t have
work-life balance, but I do have
work-life satisfaction. Speaker:
Yay. Speaker:
That’s nice. Mary Miller:
I think one of the great
powers we do have here in the government, and
we have limited powers, but we do have a
convening power. And I think to bring people
together like this and to hear all of your stories is
just so, so amazing. And I thank every one of you for
making the effort to be here. I think we heard a lot of
interesting things today. Speaker:
Right. It was a great event. Donna James:
Thank you all very much. (applause)

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